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  • telegonus14 August 2001
    This is a damn good western from the mid-thirties, and it features two or filmdom's more rugged players, Richard Dix and Preston Foster, in leading roles. There's a natural masculinity both in the movie itself and its stars that many films strive for and few achieve. A good number of fights pepper the film as well. I cannot say that the plot is unique or memorable, but the presentation is. Hungarian-born Charles Vidor directed vigorously. Also of note are a couple of black characters in fairly unstereotyped roles, and the woman does something near the end of the film that will knock your socks off.
  • This obvious attempt by RKO to duplicate the success of "Cimarron" (1930) actually succeeds, despite all the odds against it. The budget is only half for a start (and so is the running time) but it's still very lavishly produced. Secondly, heroine Margot Grahame is certainly no Irene Dunne, but she's a very capable and highly sympathetic player nonetheless. Thirdly, the movie lacks an epic stampede but it still manages some really vigorous action sequences including a knock-out climax which has echoes of the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Actor Richard Dix's manly presence is just right for the Wyatt Earp character, while Louis Calhern plays the slimy villain with all the fascination of an utterly vicious yet superficially elegant snake. Preston Foster was always better at the badman-turned-goodie (or vice versa) type of role and is in his element here. The support players include such dyed-in-the-wool villains as Joe Sawyer and even Marc Lawrence, whilst that perennial soak, Francis Ford, is all nicely dressed up here and hardly recognizable as the well-groomed mayor. Etta McDaniel also gets a chance to shine. Director Vidor handles the film's many action scenes with a bold and vigorous hand that will have even the most jaded western fans cheering.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Richard Dix was a ruggedly good looking star who always seemed more at home on the range than in the drawing room. By the time he made this film in 1935, he was entrenched in the Western genre, having also made 2 epic Westerns, "Cimarron" (1930) and "The Conquerors" (1932).

    Jake Mannen (Louis Calhern) is the sheriff in the town and controls everyone in it - Kitty Rivers tries to leave town but is held up by his henchmen. The lovely Margot Grahame, who was so effective in "The Informer" (also written by Dudley Nichols) plays Kitty, billed as the English Nightingale, who opens the film singing "Roll Along Covered Wagon, Roll Along". Clay Tallant (Richard Dix) comes to her rescue and she decides to go back to town. After that the stage is really held up by bandit Tex Randolph (Preston Foster), who takes all the cash.

    Clay is made a Marshall to clean up the town but after the man he arrests is fined only $25 he gives back his badge. When he finds that his kid brother has been beaten and warned off he asks for the badge back. J. Farrell MacDonald has an amazingly small part as a Marshall who tries to arrest members of the gang but is shot. Another surprise appearance is by Edward Van Sloan, who was in some classic films "The Mummy" and "Dracula" - he has the uncredited part of Judge Cody.

    There is a lot of action - there is a showdown in the main street - the gang on horse back (Joe Sawyer and granite faced Bob Kortman are unmistakable to miss), just itching to shoot Clay, who is walking slowly towards them - the tension just oozes out of the scene. There is a shootout in the bar when Clay is disarmed and taunted by Joe Sawyer and others. Tex joins forces with Clay and becomes a deputy Marshall.

    Clay and Tex are thrown into jail on a trumped up charge. Sheriff Jake tries to burn down the jail and in a pivotal scene Pompey (Willie Best) is shot in the back by Jake while trying to aid the prisoners. Willie Best had a long career. Initially billed as "Sleep'n'Eat" he mostly had uncredited parts - one of his roles was in Shirley Temple's "The Littlest Rebel" (1935).

    In another great atmospheric scene at the end Clay, Tex and Orin walk into the smoke shrouded street shooting it out with the unseen enemy.

    It is a great western and I highly recommend it.
  • Sure, it has all your typical elements of a Western: town with a big bad boss, hero who rides in from the horizon, the reluctant sheriff, stagecoach robberies, themes of guns vs. the rule of law. So at first you think this is going to be the kind of Western that John Wayne languished in between 1930's "Big Trail" and 1939's "Stagecoach", but it is more than that, even minus John Wayne. This has some things which distinguish it. The dialog is well done. It's direct, spare, understated, and, when it needs to be, hard. Richard Dix is especially good in this kind of environment. It also has some crisp direction by Charles Vidor, best known, I suppose, for Gilda, who makes the conventional final shoot-out thoroughly unconventional. The movie stumbles worst with the inclusion of a love triangle between the hero, his brother, and the woman between them. All the people die who are supposed to, though sometimes in a surprising way, and the West is made safe for civilized people. Good support from Margot Grahame, and Preston Foster.
  • Richard Dix who cut a fine figure of a westerner in the original Cimarron plays a Wyatt Earp like marshal in The Arizonian. He's ready to retire from town taming, but when the forces of law and order need his special talents in a place where brother James Bush is settling down in.

    The outlaws in this town have special protection as the sheriff Louis Calhern is their leader. He's made them his deputies which is a license to commit all kinds of depravity. One guy definitely not on Calhern's pad is Preston Foster who plays a Doc Holiday type figure.

    Foster and Calhern dominate The Arizonian. Dix was always a stalwart hero, a little too stalwart at times. Foster and Calhern give this film whatever color and bite it has.

    Western fans should like this.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Associate producer: Cliff Reid. Copyright 28 June 1935 by RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. New York opening at the Roxy: 26 July 1935. U.S. release: 27 July 1935. Australian release: 4 September 1935. 8 reels. 75 minutes.

    SYNOPSIS: A corrupt sheriff and his gang are cut down by an unlikely alliance between the town marshal and a bandit.

    NOTES: One of the Ten Best Films of 1935, according to Frank S. Nugent in The New York Times.

    PRINCIPAL MIRACLE: Succeeds in recapturing the vigor of Cimarron (1930).

    COMMENT: This obvious attempt by RKO to duplicate the success of Cimarron (1930) actually succeeds, despite all the odds against it. The budget is only half for a start (and so is the running time) but it's still very lavishly produced. Secondly, heroine Margot Grahame is certainly no Irene Dunne, but she's a very capable and highly sympathetic player nonetheless. Thirdly, the movie lacks an epic stampede but it still manages some really vigorous action sequences including a knock-out climax which has echoes of the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

    Actor Richard Dix's manly presence is just right for the Wyatt Earp character, while Louis Calhern plays the slimy villain with all the fascination of an utterly vicious yet superficially elegant snake. Preston Foster was always better at the badman-turned-goodie (or vice versa) type of role and is in his element here.

    The support players include such dyed-in-the-wool villains as Joe Sawyer and even Marc Lawrence, whilst that perennial soak, Francis Ford, is all nicely dressed up here and hardly recognizable as the well-groomed mayor. Etta McDaniel also gets a chance to shine. Director Vidor stylishly handles the film's large budget and many action scenes with a bold and vigorous hand that will have even the most jaded western fans cheering.

    THE DIRECTOR: No relative of America's King Vidor, Charles Vidor was born in Budapest, Hungary, on 27 July 1900. He gained his education at the University of Budapest and the University of Berlin, learning civil engineering and indulging his interest in music, writing and sculpture via a general arts course on the side. He served in the German army during the First World War, was wounded thrice and decorated on four occasions. After the armistice he tried first to use his engineering knowledge to earn a livelihood, then his singing voice. The first landed him only a chance to dig ditches, the second to sing in beer halls.

    It was then that he turned to films. Commencing at the UFA studio in Berlin doing odd jobs, he in time graduated to the position of an assistant editor, then a chief editor, and finally an assistant director. After serving in this latter capacity on Fridercus Rex ('21), he left Berlin for New York.
  • Blonde singer-dancer Margot Grahame (as Kitty Rivers) leaves the western town "Silver City" to escape the clutches of corrupt sheriff Louis Calhern (as Jake Mannen). She must leave boyfriend James Bush (as Orin Tallant) behind, but he's too timid to fret about. On the way out of town, Ms. Grahame's coach is held up by Mr. Calhern's thugs. Fortunately, they are stopped by big, brave Richard Dix (as Clay Tallant) who is going to see his brother in "Silver City". Grahame is so impressed with Mr. Dix' manliness, she decides to join him. Everyone is impressed with Dix and he is appointed marshal. Dix hopes to clean up the town, but Preston Foster (as Tex Randolph) stares him down...

    In one of the story's most memorable scenes, Mr. Foster buys a round of drinks and throws them in a line of faces. Foster has the most interesting part. Dix and the others are fairly routine. If you're looking for racial stereotypes, you might be interested in the dotingly slavish Etta McDaniel (as Sarah) and her "pussy footin'" dumb boyfriend Willie Best (as Pompey). In a story written by Dudley Nichols, director Charles Vidor is especially adept with the cast and crew on RKO's western street set/facade. The studio may have been thinking "The Arizonian" would be another "Virginian". They get no cigar, but gravelly-voiced Ray Mayer (as Frank McClosky) is a good western Eugene Palette.

    ***** The Arizonian (1935-06-28) Charles Vidor ~ Richard Dix, Margot Grahame, Preston Foster, Louis Calhern
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This film is rather unusual because of the two African American characters. Although Willie Best had no choice other than to portray the stereotypical black shuffle a la Stepin Fetchit, Etta McDaniel has a very strong role and participates in the climax of the film in an extremely unusual and satisfying way (no spoiler intended here). It's a shame that McDaniel, as with other African American actors and actresses, was limited to roles such as maids or nannies. Etta McDaniel makes the most of her time on the screen. The film ends with Richard Dix and Margot Grahame heading off to California in a covered wagon, and a second wagon is being driven by McDaniel--an indication that her character played an important role in the film.
  • In the 1930s, Richard Dix was a heck of an actor. While far from handsome, he was rugged and very dependable---a sort of 'anti- Hollywood' type. I love most of his films, and that's why I had to see this film when it came on Turner Classic Movies. Was I disappointed? Read on...

    Clay (Dix) arrives in a town to see his brother. He also sees that the place is out of control and lawless and so he takes it upon himself to pick up the sheriff badge and put an end to all this killing. The problem is that the baddies LIKE all the killing and their evil boss-man (Louis Calhern) is going to do anything he can to keep it going. Another problem is that Clay's brother has a girl...and she's falling head over heels for Clay!

    The plot for this one is relatively familiar, so the film gets no point for originality. Likewise, when the girl falls for Clay, the viewer isn't the least bit surprised what eventually happens to the brother!! Still, the film is well made--much better than average. Plus Dix and Calhern were exceptional...making this film well worth your while.